Interview the Interviewer for Your Dream Job
Q: With great jobs so scarce, I get nervous going into an interview. I’m not sure how to prepare or what to say to stand out from the crowd. What do you recommend?
A: Take a deep breath. You can do this! There is hope, so fight off that sense of desperation.
It's true that jobs are scarce and that it can be stressful to face an interviewer. With so much on the line, you are likely feeling the pressure of the process; but you’re not in this alone. Proverbs 19:21 observes, “Many are the plans of the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Yet interviewing is a skill, and all skills require practice to improve. Let me give you a few steps to help.
Step One: Get yourself in the right frame of mind. Begin this process by understanding that God is with you, and that if you get a NO in an interview, that God may just be protecting you from a bad situation or preparing you for something better.
Ask the Lord for the job that will best glorify Him and meet your needs at this point in your career. It’s important to remember that for the most part, each job is a stepping-stone to the next level, and that God is directing your steps. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
By resting in the knowledge that you are depending upon the Sovereign God of the Universe, it will relieve the pressure of thinking you have to fight for a job on your own. Pray and rest in that knowledge ahead of time, and get a good night’s sleep before the interview, too!
Step Two: Do your homework. Know to whom you are going to speak to about a job – both corporately and individually. An employer is looking for someone who can make his or her life easier and assist the company in achieving its goals. Take time to learn about the company and its leadership ahead of time, including talking to people who work there if you can. See what you can find out about the person conducting your interview as well. Ephesians 6:13 remind us to put on the full armor of God “having prepared everything, to take your stand.” Get ready to stand before the interviewer, armed with knowledge of the company and whom you are hoping to impress is an important way to reduce your stress and show you are a serious candidate.
Step Three: Know yourself. Understand your gifts and talents so that you can identify how you are a good fit for the team, how your knowledge and skills will help the company. Be able to give specifics, not just a guess. II Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed.”
You have skills to offer, things you’ve studied, strengths and a willingness to learn. It’s a mistake to ask the interviewer to explain how you might fit in, so be prepared to shine when the opportunity arises to share your pitch for why you want the job.
Step Four: Reverse the questions and be prepared to do your own interview by asking meaningful, well-researched questions. An interview is an exchange of information, the first that you may be having with your future employer. It’s important to be able to talk directly with a prospective employer about everything from salary to benefits to expectations for a project, in a calm and professional way.
Recently, I read an excellent article in Forbes titled “10 Job Interview Questions You Should Ask,” identifying some great conversation starters for an interview – allowing you to take a breath during the questioning and to consider the environment and culture of the organization that you would be entering.
The questions included: What skills and experiences would make an ideal candidate? (Allowing you to see how your skills measure up); What constitutes success at this position and this firm or nonprofit? (Allowing you to learn more about how your work will be judged); Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications? (Giving you a chance to tackle any perceived weaknesses in your resume); or Who previously held this position? (Allowing you to learn if you’re walking into a war zone depending on how that person left.)
I would add to that list of questions a few others like: Tell me more about the corporate culture of your company? What is the average length of time your employees work for the company? What do long-term employees say is their favorite reason for working here? What do they hope will be improved at this company? Is there a training program to help me be successful in this position? These questions will give you great insight about the job opportunity and send a message that you are looking for a good fit, not just a paycheck.
We hire lots of folks at Crown and often do team interviews to try to make the very best decision we can when we have multiple candidates for the same position. In those settings, if all qualifications are equal, we are looking for people who align with our values, who are able to connect on a personal level with members of our team and demonstrate a desire to contribute more than just the minimum requirements to the job. Smile, laugh, be yourself. Show your heart. God will open the right doors.